First post! Please forgive the pics, I took them on my iphone and they’re not the greatest. From here on I promise to use a better camera.
Steak Au Poivre is one of my favorite recipes to make because it’s pretty simple to cook; and it’s one of our favorite recipes to eat because the results are outstanding.
- 4 thick-cut tenderloin steaks
- 5-6 small red potatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 oz. Brandy or whiskey
- 1/2-1 cup beef stock
- Kosher salt
- Coarse ground black pepper
- Cast-iron skillet
- Meat thermometer
- Long-handled lighter
Take the steaks out of the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before you cook them- I like them to get closer to room temp before they go on the heat. Put coarse ground pepper and kosher salt on both sides…how much pepper is up to you, but the “Au Poivre” part of the name is French for “with pepper”… so if you don’t like pepper it will still taste great, you’ll just have to call it something else.
A nice side for this meal is some twice-baked potato wedges. Start heating up the oven at 350 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes, then put them on a plate and microwave them for about 5 minutes. Turn them over once, and microwave for a few minutes more. Give them a little squeeze at this point to see if they’re cooked through. If so, cut them up into quarters and put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Put whatever seasonings you like on them– salt, pepper, thyme, and a little granulated garlic powder are what I put on mine.
Now get out your trusty cast-iron skillet and heat it up. Don’t have one? A cast-iron skillet is a great tool in your cooking arsenal, and they don’t cost too much new. You might even luck out and find one at a garage sale. In any case, you shouldn’t use a teflon pan. So once the pan is heated up, put a nice big spoonful of butter in there and let it melt. Now, you probably noticed this isn’t the most low-fat meal. I actually used a more heart-healthy butter substitute called Smart Balance. This would probably be heresy to a pro chef, but I think it tastes a lot like butter and cutting out every little bit of saturated fat helps, I figure. If I was making this for company I’d go with the real butter. Go ahead and use either. Now throw the steaks in and let them sear for about 4 minutes on each side. If they’re thick enough you might want to sear the steaks on 4 sides.
When the steaks have a nice dark brown sear, put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and insert the meat thermometer, another essential tool to have in your arsenal. That way you can make sure they’re perfectly to your liking (which of course should be rare to medium rare). Put the steaks in the oven along with the potato wedges.
Now the sauce. Turn the heat down on the pan and pour in the brandy. If you don’t have Brandy or you don’t want to buy a bottle just for this recipe, you can substitute whiskey. Here’s the completely optional fun part- take a long-handled lighter and set the alcohol on fire! Be very careful not to burn yourself. I don’t know if fire really makes the sauce better or not, so don’t worry about it if you want to skip this step. I’m a pyro so I choose to ignite. Shake the pan around a bit until the fire goes out (unfortunately my fire went out before I could get a good pic). Now do what is called deglazing: take a stirring spoon to scrape with, and use the cognac to dissolve the delicious browned bits of steak sticking to the bottom and make it part of the sauce. Add the beef stock now, and you can use the stock to help deglaze if the cognac has evaporated too much. A restaurant chef would use a special evaporated beef stock called demiglace, but good luck finding that at the grocery store. I’ll often take a can of low-sodium beef stock and simmer it down by half on the stove. Or I use my own beef stock if I have any- I’ll do a post on making your own stock soon. So as you’re stirring the cognac/beef stock mix on low heat, slowly mix in the heavy cream. You won’t need too much cream, just enough to give it that coffee with cream look like the pic above. Keep stirring on low heat until the sauce thickens enough to stick to the back of a spoon.
Keep an eye on the temp and take the steaks out when it’s 125 for rare to medium rare (or 140-160 if you want to commit a crime against your steaks and cook them medium-medium well). Let them rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. Take out the potato wedges when they’re a nice golden brown. Put the steak and wedges on a plate and add the sauce on and around the steak. You don’t need much sauce- a little goes a long way. I added some steamed broccoli for a side veggie because that’s what we had, but asparagus is a good choice for this meal.